From blue vodka to green cocktails, the world of drinks can bring a real pop of colour into our lives. We ask the people making them why colour should be embraced in the world of booze

When Tato Giovannoni opened Abajo bar this summer in London, he opened with a cocktail menu based around colour. Drinks called Something Blue, Something Pink and so on festoon the menu and are served on top of lit coasters to really make them shine. As the trend for simple, clear and paired back drinks continues to pervade most of London’s top bars’ menus, it certainly made a statement.

“The idea of the concept behind Abajo was 80s Argentina,” Giovannoni explains. “I chose the colours to interpret telling people how the city and the country felt after so much darkness,” he says, referring to a time when the country was enduring a particularly tempestuous time. 

Fast-forward 30 years or so and the world is coming out of 18 months of Covid-19 – and the rest. If there was a time to be fun and colourful, it – arguably – is now.

fun drinks

Fun drinks are back

Fun liquids in a serious world

Good news then, that JJ Whitley has launched its Blue Raspberry Russian Vodka. Delivering on those raspberry notes while also packing a heavy blue punch, it’s a fun liquid entering a rather serious new world. 

“As a brand, we love experimenting with the latest, on-trend flavours – from Watermelon & Lime to Passionfruit,” explains Simon Jackman, senior global marketing manager, Halewood Artisanal Spirits, of the launch. 

“With our Blue Raspberry flavour, we saw a trend emerging for coloured liquids within the spirits category, and it felt like a really natural fit for the JJ Whitley brand. From the eye-catching blue liquid to the dazzling blue metallic bottle, it has been a great product to launch – it’s fun, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and this is something that seems to be going down well with consumers at the moment.”

fun drinks

Colourful classics like the Sex on the Beach are being embraced again

The attraction of colour

There certainly seems to be a move towards colour when it comes to both consumers and bartenders. When international drinks consultant Julian de Feral worked at the now-closed legendary bar Milk and Honey, his director made it clear when it came to the drinks, variety was key. 

“He used to say ‘I don’t want all the drinks to be the same colour, so he was always trying to encourage me to open up the spectrum,” de Feral explains. “If all those drinks are set next to each other, they need to look different. It’s a good idea to look at colour – people are attracted to it.”

For Giovannoni, a move back to colour can be seen not only in drinks but across all industries, from fashion to interior design. When it comes to drinks though, something like JJ Whitley’s new vodka can be used both behind the bar and in people’s homes. 

“The liquid itself is so vibrant, it looks really attractive mixed with lemonade or soda, but also makes some very fun looking cocktails,” says Jackman. “It’s perfect for on-trade venues, but also for people entertaining and making cocktails at home. We like to think it conjures up fond holiday memories of those more retro serves like the classic Blue Lagoon, or a more Studio 54, disco feel.”

That sense of nostalgia has also, no doubt, played a role in people wanting more fun and retro drinks. Jackman pointed out that during lockdown, consumers were experimenting a lot more with making cocktails at home, resulting in a surge in popularity for some of the more traditional ‘party’ cocktails, like the Piña Colada, Sex on the Beach, and the Long Island Iced Tea.

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It doesn’t take much too much your drink stand out

So, how do you get colour into your drinks? 

At Abajo, Giovannoni and the team use a mix of natural ingredients and coloured spirits to create their spectrum of shades. 

“We use all-natural ingredients. Most of the colours come from fruit or spirits or liquids that we’re using. For example, Something Pink uses a raspberry vinegar, pink cocchi rossa which is already pink and pink pepper gin so everything is pink already.” In Something Blue he uses spirulina alongside Principe de los Apostoles gin, Ojo de Tigre mezcal and tonic, while for Something Red, he managed to lift the darkness of Fernet Branca by infusing it with cherries and mixing it with maraschino and pink grapefruit soda.

For Féral, it can be as easy as simply adding food colouring – “the most miniscule amount will really make that drink pop” – although he does have a roll-call of coloured spirit brands who deliver both on flavour and colour that are worth adding to any drinks cabinet: “Ones that stand the test of time are Campari, Midori which does deliver in terms of taste and blue curaçao.”

fun drinks

The Papa Smurf

How to make a blue drink

So, if you’re hosting a Halloween, Bonfire Night or Christmas party, maybe eschew the clear or dark drinks and opt for something more colourful instead. Because, let’s be honest, if there was a year to bring some fun into our lives, this year would be it.

We asked JJ Whitely for a signature recipe using their Blue Raspberry Russian Vodka. They did not disappoint:

Papa Smurf

50ml JJ Whitley Blue Raspberry Russian Vodka

25ml pink grapefruit juice

20ml honey

1 egg white (or 25ml chickpea water for vegan option)

Add all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a coupe glass and garnish with an edible flower.